Everest Group is once again the featured Knowledge Partner of the 2018 Contact Islands conference, “Leading with CX in a Digital World,” presented by the Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP).
Eric will lead a session titled, “The Empowered Customer in the Age of Digital Care”
Session summary: Industries across the globe are facing profound paradigm shifts driven by new business models, supported by innovative, disruptive innovations. Amidst the changing business landscape, the focus on customers has become even more critical than ever before. This session aims to build a better understanding of the “new-age” customer and their expectations, focusing on both existing customer segments as well as millennials. The session re-inforces the importance of staying focused on customers while in the midst of adopting new models and undergoing transformation.
Karthik will moderate a session titled, “Gearing Up for the Hybrid Workforce: Humans + Machines”
Session summary: Next gen technologies such as AI, automation, and advanced analytics is changing the way companies operates. As humans and machines work more closely and collaborate, processes can become more fluid and adaptive and help organizations become more innovative and profitable. This session brings in the views of the leading industry voices on how they are getting ready for this shift and the kind of the steps they are taking, including the changes coming to the overall CX approach. Further, it explores how the collaborative Human + Machine service delivery model will enhance outcomes and result in more impact than ever before.
July 25-26, 2018
Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa
All types of artificial intelligence (AI) technology – from machine learning to natural language processing to cognitive computing – are being leveraged by enterprises to drive better customer experiences and process efficiency. Based on our market research, more than one-third of enterprises have prioritized adoption of AI-powered customer experience management (CXM) solutions in the next two to three years.
Contact Centers Looking for Value in AI Face Numerous Issues
Lack of stakeholder buy-in: Implementation of new technologies can be a barrier for firms that have made substantial investments into existing technologies and agent skill sets
Workforce resistance: Agents may be afraid that their jobs will be at risk, which in turn discourages use of AI technologies
Poor data management: Most data currently resides in siloes, which makes it very difficult for firms to leverage it to train AI systems, and results in suboptimal returns.
Despite these challenges, AI can be a key contributor to upping organizations’ competitive capabilities in the contact center space.
Three AI Benefits in Contact Centers
Enhanced customer experience: AI can help steer conversations in the right direction through real-time sentiment analysis, and deliver personalized recommendations. Consider, for example, a situation wherein AI informs the contact center agent that a telecom customer, who has called for billing clarification, can save money by opting for an international roaming pack as he/she travels abroad frequently.
Enable highly skilled talent: AI can be leveraged to monitor agent behavior and recommend training to enhance individual agent productivity. It can also ensure process compliance through regular prompts when agents are interacting with customers.
Drive process efficiency: AI-based bots deployed in the back-office can tap into the large volumes of data available for analysis to anticipate customer needs and smart route the request to the best fit agent.
But, to derive real, tangible, sustainable benefits from AI, we recommend enterprises carefully address the following considerations when attempting to operationalize their AI deployments.
There’s no question that AI is a key enabler in driving personalized, targeted customer service. But how enterprises embrace it will mean the difference between also-ran and game-changer status.
To hear more about how some of the leading brands are strengthening their customer experience delivery, the role of next-gen technologies, and how the Philippines’ contact center industry is matching the pace of the global industry-wide disruption, we invite you to join us at the Contact Center Association of the Philippines’ annual Contact Islands conference on July 25 and 26.
Everest Group is the knowledge partner for this annual event, and two of our executives – Eric Simonson and Karthik H – will be moderating plenary sessions.
Customers have stopped thinking about channels. It’s the experience that matters to them now – regardless of the channel they choose at any point of time. Thus, it’s no surprise that 73 percent of buyers responding to Everest Group’s 2016/17 Contact Center Outsourcing (CCO) surveys and interviews rated omnichannel as their top priority for adoption, and that 23 percent of buyers want to integrate the face-to-face customer touchpoints with their contact centers.
Omnichannel is a Priority for Adoption among CCO Buyers
Regardless of this intention, very few enterprises have achieved delivering a true omnichannel experience or built competitive advantage through exceptional CX.
Six Challenges Enterprises are Facing in their Transition to Omnichannel CX
Challenge 1: Lack of strategic leadership support: Most omnichannel transition efforts lack direct involvement from senior leadership to prioritize investments, communicate urgency for transition, and mitigate any implementation roadblocks. This contributes to misplaced priorities and execution inefficiencies.
Solution: An internal transition team consisting of experienced senior leadership can be set up to manage and drive the organization-wide change towards omnichannel.
Challenge 2: Inadequate focus on human capital challenges: Omni-channel investment decisions are primarily focused on technologies and solutions. But even with sophisticated tools and technologies in place, lack of investment in human capital makes it difficult to practically achieve the desired outcomes.
Solution: Organizations need to place equal importance on investments in human capital and begin their omnichannel transition efforts by assessing the talent requirements to manage omnichannel CX.
Challenge 3: Organizational skills gap for omnichannel: IT teams often lack the necessary skills to support the integration of tools, channels, and databases. Contact center managers also require upskilling on sophisticated technologies, systems, and processes to effectively manage omnichannel contact centers. Agents, usually trained in supporting individual channels, have limited knowledge to work across multiple channels.
Solution: Enterprises should conduct a gap analysis to identify training requirements for the existing talent at all levels of the organization, with the necessary skills for omni-channel and hire for new profiles. They should also revise employee performance metrics and align the incentives with common omnichannel KPIs
Challenge 4: Historically siloed functions and channels: Lack of integrated front-office functions such as sales, marketing, and customer service with back-office functions such as business intelligence, reporting, procurement, inventory management, etc., makes it impossible to create a unified view about customers.
Solution: Back-to-front office integration is crucial for a great end-to-end customer journey. The first step to achieving this is through customer journey mapping for all end-to-end processes to identify changing behaviors, capture unmet expectations, optimize processes, and encourage cross-functional collaboration.
Challenge 5: Lack of clarity on requirements for data integration from all channels: Enterprises are not clear about the business and operational needs to support data integration across all channels. Management of disparate CRM, voice and other technology systems also hinder integration.
Solution: Enterprises need to assess the implications of data standardization and integration across channels and identify an appropriate mix of tools to achieve integration of disparate datasets and applications.
Challenge 6: Incompatible legacy systems: Most legacy systems in enterprises, especially CRM systems and voice technologies, are incompatible with omnichannel platforms and solutions. This leads to inconsistency in capturing and transferring data to achieve a unified view of customers in a single platform.
Solution: Enterprises should adopt non-invasive omnichannel platforms and solutions that can seamlessly communicate with their legacy systems.
Enterprises and their contact center operations are increasingly adopting self-service technologies to improve the customer experience. Over the past several years, chatbots have become one of the most embraced. And it’s easy to see why.
Chatbots are evolving…
First generation chatbots were software programs that could hold a natural conversation on a text-based channel such as chat, email, or social media. Modern day chatbots’ capabilities – interchangeably called virtual agents – have leapfrogged ahead through use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, and Natural Language Processing (NLP), which allow them to understand free flowing language and generate real-time responses. They are no longer bound to a single channel, but instead cover the entire ambit of services, including voice support. This helps them fit well with enterprises’ broader omnichannel strategy, as they can deliver a seamless experience across channels.
…and they know your preferences
Unlike earlier versions, today’s chatbots can even contextualize information in a conversation. Here’s an example:
Jim: I would like to know the status of my flight. It’s booking # PNR AZ12356. Chatbot: Hi Jim, checking into it. It appears that your flight’s departure will be delayed by 4 hours, due to scheduling changes. Jim: Can you cancel it and check for an earlier flight in the morning? Chatbot: Confirming…
As per your request, I have cancelled your flight American Airlines 235 from Boston to New York. Based on your past bookings, I have three suggestions for alternative flights on the same day:
Delta 2897: Departs from BOS at 0430 hours and arrives at JFK at 0550 hours
Delta 2471: Departs from BOS at 0600 hours and arrives at JFK at 0720 hours
Delta 3167: Departs from BOS at 0640 hours and arrives at JFK at 0800 hours
Jim: Book one ticket in the second option. Chatbot: Confirming availability. Based on your preferences, would you like me to book an aisle seat, and select a bruschetta omelet with coffee for breakfast? Jim: Yes, that will be great. Chatbot: Excellent. Your flight Delta 2471 from BOS to JFK will depart at 0600 hours on October 30, 2017. Your seat number is 4C. I have sent a copy of the ticket to your personal email id. Have a safe flight.
Notice how the chatbot contextualized the information based on unstructured and more natural language flow, and offered recommendations based on the user’s past preferences. These degrees of evolution have made chatbots much more self-service capable, and are significantly enhancing the experience that contact centers deliver to their client’s customers.
As with all technologies, chatbots come with risks
The end goal for today’s enterprises is to deliver the best possible omnichannel customer experience. Chatbots can help customers solve problems on their preferred channel of communication (voice and non-voice). However, the technology does have shortcomings. The well-known example of Microsoft’s Tay – a Twitter-based intelligent bot that had to be pulled down within 16 hours of deployment due to offensive tweets – highlights one technology gap that needs to be addressed.
The shift to digital in contact centers is driving a transition in the service provider role from reactive participant to strategic engagement partner, managing the customer experience jointly with the enterprise
The topic of productivity differences in contact center locations has always been of interest to enterprises, GICs, and service providers. In the last few months, there has been a significant increase in firms’ interest in leveraging an integrated global delivery model across offshore, nearshore, and onshore locations for their contact center needs. In addition, the looming prospect of higher barriers to offshoring/nearshoring is also shifting focus from a labor arbitrage model to one of productivity gains.
Against this backdrop, Everest Group conducted targeted research to assess relative differences in contact center productivity across locations, using agent efficiency as a proxy for productivity.
Our research uncovered an interesting finding: while there are location-specific variations, agent productivity does not consistently vary by location category (i.e., onshore versus offshore/nearshore). While agent productivity is influenced by multiple factors, only two – average call handling time and agent utilization – are largely location-dependent. Even after normalizing for other factors such as nature of business, work mix, and scale of operations, there is no evidence to suggest that productivity is higher in onshore locations than in offshore/nearshore locations.
Exhibit 1: Assessment framework for agent productivity in contact centers
The reason that productivity variations are not location specific is that both average call handling time and agent utilization are, in turn, impacted by drivers that largely do not vary consistently across location category. For example, both scheduling efficiency and training effectiveness are influenced more by center-specific policies and work environment than location category. Thus, it’s the interplay of these and multiple other drivers, which often negate and counterbalance each other, that are the key contributors to productivity variations, not the locations themselves.
Exhibit 2: Variation in location-dependent factors that impact agent productivity in contact centers
These findings have some important implications for firms:
It is important to focus more on internal levers to improve productivity within individual contact center operations. Factors such as call volume, business cyclicality, skillset availability, and the firm’s overall policies and practices influence productivity more than location-dependent factors
Furthermore, global work placement decisions need to incorporate multiple factors beyond productivity, including delivery cost , talent scalability, business/client preferences, and business/operating risks
Finally, it is important to recognize that no single metric is sufficient to fully capture productivity. Rather, a holistic assessment that incorporates both efficiency and effectiveness (quality) and both agent and technology-enabled metrics is required